The Magic of Re-reading

S. J. Pajonas July 29, 2015
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How does re-reading continue to inspire and thrill us, even if we already know what's coming?

I was just having a conversation with someone a few weeks ago about re-reading our favorite books. I remember lamenting at the time that I just don’t have time to re-read books even though I want to. Like my husband always says, “Life is too short to re-read books you’ve already read.” Of course, I disagree with him. I’ve read the Harry Potter books a number of times, and some of my favorite scifi books (ENDER’S GAME, DUNE, and Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION series all come to mind) are always in the back of my consciousness, influencing my reading choices or the way I live my life. I love those books and will happily re-read them all again, sometime in the future.

I was thinking about this whole re-reading phenomenon. If you’ve read a book and are reading it again, you already know the plot, the conflict, and motivation of the characters, the three things that make up a good book. So what is it about re-reading that appeals to many of us? My theory is that there’s magic at play.

Lol. Please laugh with me because this was really my best theory on the matter. Each of these re-readable stories holds a magical quality that feeds us, inspires us, and continues to move us with each subsequent reading. It charmed us the first time, educated us the second time, comforted us the third, and so on. The magic doesn’t fade with each reading, it morphs, especially if years pass between readings. New life experiences may color or affect the words on the page so that what may have been meaningless before is suddenly life-altering. Aren’t books amazing?

After trying to read several new books these past weeks and failing (audiobooks notwithstanding), I decided it was time to go back to my bookshelf for some magic. I was inspired to pick up THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE again after reading an article about the moment Haruki Murakami knew he was going to be a novelist.

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Murakami is arguably my favorite author and this is my favorite book, but it’s been at least 8 years since I’ve read it! I remember reading it for the second time around the time my oldest was born, so I know it’s been a while. What better way to refill my creativity well and experience the magic of re-reading than reading my favorite book again! I started reading it last night, and I’m already enjoying the story once more. I love the quality of his sparse writing and sentence structure and the random nature of events that surely mean something in the grand scale of the story. I’ll be interested to see how this book affects me this time. Last time I read it, I cried at certain points. Will these chapters and moments move me again? Or will other points of the story capture my attention? It is an experiment worthy of my summer.

What are your favorite books to re-read? Why do you re-read them? And do they mean something different to you each time you read them? Leave your answers in the comments!


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Category: Book Chat, Personal
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